An Asian Holiday: Part 3 – Using Miles for Two $8,000 First Class Seats to Mumbai, India

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Emily Jablon:  Daraius and I celebrated Christmas in Macau and Hong Kong with his family for ~8 days.  It was our 1st time to Macau and Hong Kong and we were very excited to visit!

Etihad First Class

Ready to Begin Our Journey to Mumbai, India!

We took an Etihad flight from Washington, DC, to Abu Dhabi where we had a short layover.  We then continued on to Mumbai (Bombay), India, which was a short ~3.5 hour flight.

An Asian Holiday – Trip Report Index:

How You Can Do It Too!

We redeemed 90,000 American Airlines miles & $30 in taxes, fees, and telephone bookings fees for a 1-way flight in First Class (plus fees).   Coach costs ~$950, Business Class costs ~$6,000, and First Class costs a whopping ~$8,000.  So you are getting a lot of value for your points!

How Many Miles You Need:

  • Coach Class: 45,000 American Airlines miles
  • Business Class: 67,500 American Airline miles
  • First Class: 90,000 American Airlines miles

But you can’t find Etihad award seats on the American Airlines website.  You have to check for award seats on Etihad’s website and then call American Airlines to book your ticket.

How to Get the Miles:

1.   Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

You get 100,000 miles when you spend $10,000 within 3 months using the Citi American Airlines Executive card.   So this is the easiest way to get the points to fly First Class on Etihad.

Here are 40+ Ways to Complete Minimum Spending Requirements!

2.   Citi American Airlines Cards

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® each get you 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 within 3 months.

Note: You are allowed 2 Citi Personal cards within 65 days.  But you can NOT get more than 1 Citi card at a time.  Wait 8 days to apply for a 2nd Citi card.

3.   American Express Starwood Hotel Cards

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express each get you 25,000 Starwood points when you spend $5,000 within 6 months.  Starwood points transfer to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.  You’ll also get a 5,000 point bonus each time you transfer 20,000 points to American Airlines.

If you earn the bonus on both cards you will have 60,000 Starwood points (50,000 bonus points + 10,000 points from completing the minimum spending).  You can transfer Starwood hotel points to American Airlines.  60,000 Starwood hotel points transfers to 75,000 American Airlines miles (60,000 miles + 15,000 transfer bonus).

That gets you most of the way to a Business Class ticket on Etihad.

Etihad Flight From Washington, DC to Abu Dhabi

1.   Etihad First Class Suite

Emily Jablon:  The cabin was gorgeous.  It looked very new.

Etihad First Class

The Sleek Interior in Etihad First Class

And I loved the smart, stylish design.

Etihad First Class

Cream Colors Made the Suite Feel Warm & Inviting

The seats were very roomy.

Etihad First Class

A Throne Built for a King

The cabins are in warm brown, tan, and cream colors, and are accented with wood panels.

Etihad First Class

Is International House Hunters On?

There were TVs that had music, movies, games, and tv shows.

Etihad First Class

8 Live TV Channels and Over 400 Music Albums

There were storage compartments that held water (still and sparkling) and mixed nuts.

Etihad First Class

Lots of Convenient Storage Spaces Around Our Suite

I appreciated that water was within reach at all times.

Etihad First Class

Cold Drinks Kept on Hand in Etihad First Class

There’s also a magazine storage compartment by your seat…

Etihad First Class

Luckily I Got Daraius to Put Away the SkyMall Magazine Before He Ordered the Yeti Sculpture

…as well as an electronics storage area.  It was nice to charge our laptops, but there was no Wi-Fion the plane!  Most of Etihad’s flights do have wi-fi, so this was surprising!

Etihad First Class

How Will Daraius Share His Mile & Point Secrets Without Internet?

There’s also an easy to use touch screen, which controlled the lights and seats.  There was even a massage function!

Etihad First Class

Free Unlimited In-Suite Massages on Etihad ;-)

Each cabin has doors that close for added privacy.

Etihad First Class

When We Closed the Doors It Felt Like We Were the Only Ones on the Plane

Daraius really enjoyed it!  It is his favorite First Class cabin.

Etihad First Class

Daraius Was Impressed With Etihad First Class Suites

Daraius and I chose the middle seats, which I think is best for couples because it felt very spacious inside our suite.

Etihad First Class

This Is Big Travel With Small Money!

There was a screen in the middle that you could put up in case you wanted privacy.

Etihad First Class

Daraius Relaxing in Our Private In-Air Suite

The seats are very comfortable and convert into beds, which are bigger than the usual First Class seat beds.

We received men’s pajamas for Daraius…

Etihad First Class

The Pajamas Were So Soft

…and women’s pajamas with Swarovski crystals along the zipper.

Etihad First Class

Emily’s Fancy PJs with Swarovski Crystals

In addition, we received gender specific amenity kits.  Daraius received a black amenity kit.

Etihad First Class

The Men’s Amenity Kit Is a Soft Leather Box

Inside were the usual amenities, including socks, an eye mask, a razor, shaving cream, and more.

Etihad First Class

Inside Were the Typical Toiletries

The women’s kits had Swarovski crystal detailing.

Etihad First Class

I Don’t Usually Care About the Amenity Kits, But This One Might Be Worth Keeping

The women’s amenity kit included many of the same items found in the men’s kit.

Etihad First Class

The Sleep & Relax Spray Was Something we Haven’t Seen in an Amenity Kit Before!

The pajamas were very comfortable.

Etihad First Class

Getting Cozy for the Long Flight

2.   Etihad In-Flight Dining

We received 3 menus for the flight: 1 for tea, 1 for alcoholic drinks, and 1 for food.

Etihad First Class

The Menus Came With Belgian Chocolates

Here’s the 1st page of the food menu:

Etihad First Class

Meals on Etihad’s Dining Menu Are Made By an On-Board Chef

And here is the 2nd page of the food menu:

Etihad First Class

If It Were Up to Daraius, All 3 Menus Would Be Filled With Meat!

Here is the drink menu:

Etihad First Class

Night Cap Options

Finally, here is the tea menu:

Etihad First Class

A Large Selection of Teas Along With Tasting Recommendations

The Chef came out to introduce himself.  We could tell that he was a “real” chef and not a flight attendant in chef’s clothing by the questions he asked and when he shared his background (he was a culinary school graduate).

Etihad First Class

The Man Behind the Menu

Daraius ordered the Taste of Arabia, which included Arabic appetizers, lentil soup, lamb etc.

Etihad First Class

Daraius Offering Me a Bite

Afterwards, we received our 1st courses.  I ordered the pea and mint soup with sour cream and chives.

Etihad First Class

The Soup Didn’t Look Great, But It Was Actually Delicious

Then we received raspberry sorbet as a palette cleanser.

Etihad First Class

The Sorbet Was Refreshing

Daraius received his 1st course of Arabic Mezze, a selection of Middle Eastern hot and cold appetizers.

Etihad First Class

Daraius’ Favorite Appetizer Was the Sambousek

Then he had lamb ghouzi.

Etihad First Class

The Lamb Was Served in a Tomato Sauce With Roasted Vegetables

For my main course, I had beef with mashed potatoes and green beans.  The beef was very well cooked and it didn’t taste like rubber like it does on many other flights!

Etihad First Class

The Beef Was Tender

I watched an episode of Mad Men and enjoyed the large high resolution TV.  Then, Daraius and I both went to sleep.

Etihad First Class

Emily Ready for Bed

The beds seemed larger than most in-flight beds.  I could bend my knees freely without having to worry about knocking them on hard wood or plastic!

The staff will make your bed for you with a fitted sheet and a duvet.

Etihad First Class

Bed With Egyptian Cotton Sheets and Comforter

Daraius was anxious to sleep.

Etihad First Class

Nitey Nite!

After a few hours, we got up.  I ordered the breakfast sampler, which came with 2 pastries, muesli (granola), yogurt, and fresh fruit.  To drink, I had a mix of half carrot juice and half orange juice.

Etihad First Class

A Healthy Breakfast Was a Great Way to Start the Day! (You Didn’t See That Cinnamon Roll)

3.   Etihad First and Business Class Lounge

When we arrived at the Abu Dhabi Airport we made our way to the lounge.

Etihad First Class

The Etihad Lounge Has a Library, Cigar Lounge, and Spa

There was another lounge for folks who don’t have access to the First & Business Class lounges, which you could access with the Lounge Club membership with your Chase Ink Bold or Ink Plus card.

Etihad First Class

If You Aren’t Flying First or Business Class You Can Access the Al Reem Lounge for ~$44

There was a long line to clear security, but a shorter line for business class and First Class passengers.

Etihad First Class

The Etihad Lounge Is Across From the Security Exit

The lounge was easy to find.

Etihad First Class

Inside You Can Get a Free 15 Minute Spa Treatment

Once we were inside, we decided to get something to eat.

Etihad First Class

By the Time We Got Through Security, We Just Wanted a Quick Snack

The lounge looked very new and modern.

Etihad First Class

There Were Several Sitting Areas

The lounge was empty, but we didn’t have time to schedule a free massage.

Etihad First Class

Where Is Everyone?

After a snack, we boarded our next flight to Mumbai.  We got lucky and our plane had a First Class cabin which was exactly like what we flew from Washington, DC to Abu Dhabi.  So we won’t write more about it here.

Etihad also has a service for complimentary executive car rides to your home destination.  So Daraius booked the car service online at the Etihad website.  The driver was at the Mumbai airport holding up a sign with Daraius’ name.

Etihad First Class

If You Fly First or Business Class the Etihad Chauffeur Will Take You to Your Final Destination in 25 Cities

Daraius and I thoroughly enjoyed our flight on Etihad airways!  The service and quality are excellent!

But our favorites are still Lufthansa First class flight (the separate bed with a real mattress is hard to beat) and Jet Airways First Class (for their exceptional ground handling in Mumbai, India).  But Etihad is certainly included in our top 3 or 4 First Class experiences.

How You Can Do It Too!

We redeemed 90,000 American Airlines miles for a 1-way flight in First Class (plus fees).   Coach costs ~$950, Business Class costs ~$6,000, and First Class costs a whopping ~$8,000.  So you are getting a lot of value for your points!

How Many Miles You Need:

  • Coach Class: 45,000 American Airlines miles
  • Business Class: 67,500 American Airline miles
  • First Class: 90,000 American Airlines miles

But you can’t find Etihad award seats on the American Airlines website.  You have to check for award seats on Etihad’s website and then call American Airlines to book your ticket.

How to Get the Miles:

1.   Citi American Airlines Executive Card

You get 100,000 miles when you spend $10,000 within 3 months using the Citi American Airlines Executive card.   So this is the easiest way to get the points to fly First Class on Etihad.

Here are 40+ Ways to Complete the Minimum Spending.

2.   Citi American Airlines Cards

The Citi American Airlines Personal card and Citi American Airlines Business card each get you 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 within 3 months.

Note: You are allowed 2 Citi Personal cards within 65 days.  But you can NOT get more than 1 Citi card at a time.  Wait 8 days to apply for a 2nd Citi card.

3.   American Express Starwood Cards

The American Express Starwood Personal card and the American Express Starwood Business card each get you 25,000 Starwood points when you spend $5,000 within 6 months.  Starwood points transfer to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.  You’ll also get a 5,000 point bonus each time you transfer 20,000 points to American Airlines.

If you earn the bonus on both cards you will have 60,000 Starwood points (50,000 bonus points + 10,000 points from completing the minimum spending).  You can transfer Starwood hotel points to American Airlines.  60,000 Starwood hotel points transfers to 75,000 American Airlines miles (60,000 miles + 15,000 transfer bonus)

That gets you most of the way to a Business Class ticket on Etihad.

Bottom Line

We really enjoyed flying in the First Class Suites on Etihad.  The suites were very spacious and private.  And the seats were comfortable.

These seats usually cost ~$8,000, so this is an experience we never would have without miles and points!

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37 responses to “An Asian Holiday: Part 3 – Using Miles for Two $8,000 First Class Seats to Mumbai, India

  1. Was it hard to find award availability on Etihad?

  2. Looks like living in the lap of luxury, there. Nice flight!
    However, if you want kids someday, I advise skipping the “Sleep & Relax Spay.” 😉

  3. Picture of Daraius on the bed looks like a prison outfit. lol

  4. Hi Darius thanks for the trip reports!! I have the same question as Danny – how is availability and is first class normally available for award redemption?

    • @danny @Andrea – Coach seats are usually easily available, and First and business class were also available, though less available than coach. I’ll have a series of posts on booking Etihad flights in a few weeks.

      @Robert – Thanks! It has been fixed (perhaps “fixed” isn’t the best word to use in this context). 🙂

  5. Funny, My husband sold those super first class suites to them.

  6. do you think USAir miles can be booked with Etihad when they join Oneworld ?

  7. Not sure if this question has been asked before in other posts, but what is the tipping etiquette when receiving such services as sit down meals in the lounge, complimentary chauffeur services, free massages, etc?

  8. Safuvan Padannayil

    Is there still 50K points for the AA Citi Business Card? The link you gave here (pasted below) does not say anything about 50K bonus miles.

    Link: https://www.citicards.com/cards/acq/Apply.do?promocode=away4&app=UNSOL&sc=6HXTA6Q3&m=8USMZC2WHQW&langId=EN&siteId=BAO&B=A&screenID=3006&ProspectID=4A77712D9EB04DD9934A5091CB06CC68

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  10. Great post! Really motivated me in start getting miles! I found your blog and loved it. I have been trying for the past year and a half to get my credit up and finally I have it good enough to get unsecured cards with good rewards such as the Amex gold and Citi aadvantage gold. As I continue to increase my credit, hopefully I will start getting better credit cards with better rewards. Again, this blog has really motivated my wife and I to get into this miles game. I thank you for all the good tips and info!

  11. Pingback: An Asian Holiday: Part 2 – Etihad Lounge in Washington, DC | Million Mile Secrets

  12. Can I use my Avios to book first class on Etihad?

    • @choi – I’d guess not immediately.

      @Peter5 – I just tip the chauffeur, but none is expected in the lounge.

      @ Carole – You can’t because Etihad and British Airways aren’t partner airlines.

      @ Jason – I called Etihad to select the seats after booking the flight with American Airlines.

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  17. Excellent information! Thanks for posting such a detailed review of Etihad. Can you please tell me how you reserved your seats? Was AA able to do it for you at the time of booking, or did you have to call Etihad?
    Thanks!

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  23. Hi MMS
    Thanks for the report. My family is trabveling in coach on the same IAD-AUH flight is the security line too long at AUH for Coach pax. Can it be finished in 30 min? Thanks, plz reply

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  28. Can Ethiad be booked by transferring United miles to Air Canada aeroplan or another star alliance partner which is also a Ethiad partner?

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  31. very nice post! question on etihad chauffeur if anyone can shed some light – I am doing ORD-IAD (US air) IAD-AUH (EY) on one award ticket , do I still get to use the chauffeur in chicago?

    Also do award tickets have 24 hr cancellation if originating within US like paid tickets?

    Thanks!

  32. amazing, i want but i dont have money 🙁

  33. You keep saying you redeemed 90k miles but didnt you redeem 180k ? 90k each?
    Did you fly back in Coach?